American Printing House for the Blind

January is National Braille Literacy Month. 

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the American Printing House for the Blind, located on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville's Clifton neighborhood. I'd driven past the APH dozens of times and vaguely knew that they did good works. Little did I know how much they contribute to the blind and vision impaired community around the world!

The American Printing House for the Blind is the world's largest company devoted solely to researching, developing, and manufacturing products for people who are blind and visually impaired. Founded in 1858, it is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States. Under the 1879 federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind, APH is the official supplier of educational materials for visually impaired students in the U.S. who are working at less than college level. APH was originally housed in the basement of the nearby Kentucky School for the Blind before construction began on an adjacent lot.

My tour of the APH included, of course, a look at the actual printing process. It was fascinating to see all of the various mechanisms for printing. This was like a giant laser printer for making raised-imprint illustrations.
This machine creates Braille imprints.
And, I was suprised to learn, the Printing House produces so much more than books. This is an example of a globe prototype. APH also creates the Braille menus for McDonalds. They even record a series of audiobooks. While I was there, a reader was recording a special edition of Orange is the New Black!
APH also houses an extensive museum that commemorates the history and achievements of the visually impaired community.
The piano upon which Stevie Wonder learned to play.

The Book of Psalms from Helen Keller's Bible
APH also features special exhibits and programs. In celebration of Braille Literacy Month, there will be a program entitled "This Is Your Life, Louis Braille" at 10:30 a.m. on January 25th.

The American Printing House for the Blind is an amazing resource right in our backyard. You'll be amazed what you can learn there!